He is so rich in kindness and grace that he purchased our freedom with the blood of his Son and forgave our sins. He has showered his kindness on us, along with all wisdom and understanding. [Ephesians 1:7 (NLT)]

Well then, should we keep on sinning so that God can show us more and more of his wonderful grace? Of course not! Since we have died to sin, how can we continue to live in it? [Romans 6:1-2 (NLT)]

golden mantled ground squirrelI’m not sure if Hammie MacPherson, the mischievous little boy mentioned in yesterday’s devotion, ever made his annoying noise again but, in another “Baby Blues” comic by Kirkman and Scott, he tells his mother, “I’m sorry and I promise it will never happen again.” When she asks what he’s done, he says he doesn’t yet know. “It’s still early,” he adds, “so I thought I’d get the apology out of the way first.”

Contemplating the day’s mischief, Hammie apologized in advance. I’m not so sure our forgiving God welcomes that approach to forgiveness. After all, an apology is merely an excuse. The word “apology” comes from the Greek apologia, meaning a speech in one’s defense. The original English sense of the word “apology” was self-justification. Most definitely, either in advance or after the fact, God is not interested in any defense of our indefensible actions.

Granted, Christ died for all of our sins—past, present, and future—but I’m pretty sure God’s promise of forgiveness doesn’t give us free rein to do as we please. Although Christ’s sacrifice paid our debt, we haven’t been given carte blanche to deliberately live sinfully. God’s forgiveness involves repentance on our part and genuine repentance includes not just a confession of wrongdoing but also a willingness to make things right and to do better in the future. Confessing our unnamed sins in advance of their commission indicates neither remorse nor repentance.

When the comic strip’s Hammie does something naughty, as he surely will, his loving mother will forgive him. His disobedience, however, will disappoint her, incur her anger, and cause him to be disciplined (the “or else” in yesterday’s message). When we accepted Christ, we may have been declared righteous but we still have a long way to go before we act righteously. Like the little boy, we continue to go astray. Fortunately, our salvation is secure in Christ and our sins have been forgiven in advance. Nevertheless, we must remember that they truly grieve God. With our sins, we risk both God’s divine displeasure and discipline. I doubt that apologizing in advance for willful disobedience will be successful in the MacPherson house; I know it won’t work in God’s!

If we claim we have no sin, we are only fooling ourselves and not living in the truth. But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness. [1 John 1:8-9 (NLT)]

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